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Stephen Priest, in front, and son Tim paddle on the Allagash Wilderness Waterway in Maine. Priest details his outdoor adventures in his new book, “Outdoor Play: Fun 4 4 Seasons,” shown at right. (Courtesy Photo)

Bedford man writes book on enjoying the outdoors – in any weather

Looking for some outdoor fun this summer, but aren’t sure where to go to find it?

Local outdoor enthusiast Stephen Priest of Bedford has taken his own passion for the outdoors and turned it into his fourth book, “Outdoor Play: Fun 4 4 Seasons,” which offers plenty of tips for people who want to get more time outdoors.

“Trees give off oxygen and take in CO2,” he said, “and as humans, we have to take in oxygen and we give off CO2. Isn’t that a great relationship with the outdoors?”

In the book, derived largely from the 70-year-old’s blog about the outdoors, Priest blends his own personal stories about outdoor adventures with family and friends with advice on everything from where to go to what to pack, including useful apps that can enhance an outdoor excursion.

The book highlights several local spots, including Lake Umbagog, the Great North Woods of New Hampshire and Lake Sunapee, and goes farther to include spots on the Appalachian Trail in Georgia and paddling on the Florida’s Suwannee River.

Priest’s mantra is about never having to say, “I wish I had ...,” with many chapters ending with that sentence for the applicable activity in each chapter.

His enthusiasm for the outdoors was the result of an injury to his Achilles tendon, and an excerpt from the book describes how doctors told Priest he would likely reinjure it.

He set out to prove them wrong, and his rise from self-professed “couch potato” to outdoor adventurer was born.

Priest is now an avid hiker, biker, kayaker, swimmer and cross-country skier, and said anyone can get started on a healthier lifestyle.

He is also National Senior Games triathlete.

“This is really to try to get families and individuals outside,” said Priest. “I just want to get people outside and have fun.”

According to Priest, anyone can make a first step and go from being completely sedentary to getting out and fully enjoying the outdoors, noting that he himself began by walking the distance between two telephone poles.

“You are only limited to an outdoor activity by boundaries set by yourself,” he writes.

Priest said he spent a lot of time camping and hiking with his own children, and now gets to do the same with his grandchildren.

“The love of the outdoors has been passed down to the next generation,” he said.

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